The Sheer Astonishing Remarkableness of it All

Wednesday July 5, 2006

Jungle Plants

I’ve recently been watching David Attenborough’s The Private Life of Plants, and it is an extraordinary series of programmes.

I’ve been a fan of David Attenborough ever since I watched Life on Earth at the age of seven or eight. My family had a black and white TV at the time, and so every week we would troop over the road to visit one of our neighbours and watch the series on their colour set. Forget school: Life on Earth was the highlight of my week. I received a copy of the book that went with the TV series for the Christmas of 1979, and it was one of my most treasured possessions.

What makes all of Attenborough’s programmes such a delight to watch is his passionate enthusiasm for the profusion of life on this small globe of ours. Whilst some TV wildlife shows go only for the sensational (the endless round of programmes about killer sharks on the UK’s Channel 5, all of those documentaries about lions mauling wildebeest), Attenborough demonstrates the remarkableness of things that we might overlook as everyday and mundane – the bracken that covers the hillsides, or precise weighting of a sycamore seed.

Watching The Private Life of Plants has reminded me again of the sheer astonishing remarkableness of it all, the gob-smacking, breathtaking wonder of the world that we live in. Every time I sit down to watch another episode, I find myself astonished once again by this business of being alive.

Such astonishment is good, I think. It quickens the pulse. Boredom, the experience of becoming dead to the world, is I think in part a result of not looking closely enough. It is the result of insufficient attention, of mistaking our ideas about the world for the world itself. On my last retreat, there is something that Martine Batchelor said a few times about boredom in meditation that has remained with me. “Just think: it has taken millions upon millions of years of evolution, all of those ancestors struggling to survive before you, just so you can sit here and be bored!”

Read more about David Attenborough on Wikipedia.

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#1 · Darius

6 July 2006

For me it was a great revelation to leave behind my teenage years and start noticing the fact that life wasn’t boring at all – it was just me that had been bored… I guess the teenage years are the heights of boredom for many of us.

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